Over the last 20 years, gambling in Oklahoma has exploded. When I was a teenager, you could go to Oklahoma to play bingo. It was a big deal for a lot of the older people around here.
But the tribes running the bingo halls eventually got into the business of running casinos, too. Now Oklahoma is the 2nd biggest casino destination in the United States, right after Nevada. In fact, Oklahoma is home to at least 134 casinos. That’s not even close to the 334 or so casinos in Nevada, but it’s closer than any other state gets.
If you live in one of the states bordering Oklahoma—especially Texas—Oklahoma is probably your gambling destination of choice just based on proximity. This post aims to serve as a guide to gambling in the state of Oklahoma. I’ve included information about the casinos there and answers to the most commonly asked question about them.
It’s impossible to be comprehensive in a blog post on this subject, especially when the subject includes 134 different properties. But if you want to find out, even more, don’t forget to check our complete Oklahoma gambling guide page.
Also, I live in Texas and gamble in Oklahoma, so much of what I’m writing is from personal experience. It’s not just stuff I researched using other websites. That always adds to the usability and expertise of a page, in my experience.
The Top 10 Oklahoma Casinos
Here’s a list of the top 10 casinos in Oklahoma. They’re listed in alphabetical order rather than in order of rating, but this is a selective list—the best casinos out of the 134 casinos in the state:
Buffalo Run Casino
This property is located in Miami, Oklahoma and has over 900 gambling machines to choose from. They also offer blackjack, Three Card Poker, and Ultimate Texas Holdem. They also have 4 restaurants and a snack bar. One of the biggest perks at Buffalo Run Casino is that you don’t have to pay that silly ante, but you’re required to use your players’ card to be exempt from the ante requirement.
Still, compared to the casinos that require an ante, that’s one of the best deals in Oklahoma gambling. Buffalo Run Casino is owned and operated by the Peoria Tribe. The hotel is relatively small, with only 100 guest rooms.
There are actually several Cherokee Casinos in Oklahoma, but the one that made this list is the one in Roland. It’s right near the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas. They have over 800 gambling machines, but they also have a small poker room with 5 poker tables.
They have table games, too, like blackjack, Three Card Poker, and Ultimate Texas Holdem. There are only 2 restaurants on site—a buffet and a fast food place that’s open 24 hours. The Lee Creek Tavern hosts live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. The hotel has 120 rooms.
This is the 2nd largest casino in Oklahoma, 2nd only to the Winstar in Thackerville. Choctaw Casino is in Durant. The casino has 110,000 square feet of gaming, over 4500 slot machines, and almost 40 table games, including blackjack, Let It Ride, mini baccarat, pai gow poker, roulette, Three Card Poker, and Ultimate Texas Holdem.
Choctaw has 8 restaurants on site, 330 hotel rooms, and an attached rv park with room for 75 rvs. The poker room action here is excellent.
Downstream Casino Resort
Downstream is located at the border to Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. They have 70,000 square feet of gaming space, over 2000 slot machines, and 30 table games, including blackjack and Ultimate Texas Holdem, among others. They also have an active poker room with 14 tables. There are 5 restaurants on site, and the property has 330 hotel rooms available.
Grand Casino Hotel Resort
The Grand Casino Hotel Resort has over 2000 slot machines to choose from as well as several table games, including blackjack, craps, and Ultimate Texas Holdem. They have 8 restaurants on site, including a sushi bar and Subway. The hotel has 262 rooms.
Hard Rock Casino
Open since 2009, this is the same brand that it sounds like. It’s a large casino with 147,000 square feet of gaming space and over 2600 slot machines. The Hard Rock offers table games and a poker room. Roughly half a dozen restaurants on site include Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill. The casino has over 450 rooms. The Hard Rock Casino is located in Tulsa.
Indigo Sky Casino
Open since 2012, Indigo Sky Casino in Wyandotte is one of the newest casinos on this list. It has 244 rooms, and a lot of games—1270 slots and 12 table games. The table games include multiple variations of blackjack and several house-banked poker variations.
They also have a 520 seat bingo hall on site. There are 2 restaurants and a food court. The poker room is small (8 tables) but active.
River Spirit Casino
Another property located in Tulsa, the River Spirit Casino recently (in 2016) became home to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino and Restaurant. They have 200,000 square feet of gaming space, making them one of the biggest casinos in the state, too.
They have a large table game selection that includes craps on Friday and Saturday nights. They’re not allowed to use dice, though, so the action is determined using playing cards. The poker room has 15 tables, and the hotel has 483 guest rooms.
Located in Norman, Oklahoma, the Riverwind Casino is huge, with 219,000 square feet of gaming space and 2800 slot machine games. They also offer 20 table games. The poker room is unusual for Oklahoma, though—it’s not open 24 hours.
It closes at 3:30am on the week nights and 4:30am on the weekends. The poker room opens at 9am every morning. They have a buffet restaurant and several fast food restaurants in the food court.
Most people are surprised to learn that the largest casino in the United States is located in Thackerville, Oklahoma, but that’s the simple truth. The Winstar World has over 500,000 square feet of gaming space. The restaurants there are excellent, and the poker room is huge and there’s plenty of action any time of day.
They have world-class entertainment every weekend. Other than the silly and expensive “ante” they charge on the table games, the gambling here is probably as varied and as exciting as you’ll find in Vegas. The odds just aren’t as good. If you can only visit one Oklahoma casino, though, the Winstar is probably the one to visit.
Is It Legal to Gamble in Oklahoma?
Yes, it’s legal to gamble at casinos in Oklahoma, but they’re all Native American casinos. The state and the tribes have some pretty specific restrictions about what kind of gambling is legal there, too. Most of the gambling in Oklahoma is done on slot machines.
More recently, card games have become legalized and regulated. The poker scene in the state is thriving. The casinos also offer games like blackjack and Three Card Poker.
Roulette wheels and dice are not allowed, but the casinos there get around this by using playing cards to determine their results. The odds and probabilities are the same.
Sports betting isn’t legal in Oklahoma, yet, but that could change quickly in light of the recent Supreme Court decision overturning PASPA.
Is It Legal to Gamble ONLINE in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma is not one of the states where online casino gambling has been legalized and regulated. That being said, you can play at offshore casinos from within the borders of Oklahoma if that’s what you want to do. That’s a lot of hassle when you probably live close to a real, traditional casino.
The legality of operating an online casino that caters to Oklahoma gamblers is problematic at best. I don’t recommend opening an internet casino targeting that market. It would be hard to imagine a player being arrested or prosecuted for playing slots online for money, though.
Where Can You Gamble in Oklahoma if You’re Only 18?
In Oklahoma, you can gamble in a casino if you’re 18, but not all the casinos allow 18-year olds to gamble. Some of the casinos require you to be at least 21 years old.
As far as I know, there is no reputable, accurate list of casinos organized by category. The easiest thing to do is look at which casino is nearest you and check their website for their age requirements. If you can’t find the information on their website, just call them and ask the person who answers the phone.
What Is the Biggest Casino in the State of Oklahoma?
The biggest casino in Oklahoma is also the biggest casino in the United States. In fact, it’s the 2nd biggest casino in the entire world.
It’s the Winstar World & Casino Resort. It’s been open since 2004, and it shows no signs of slowing down its growth. I can remember, in fact, when it wasn’t even a permanent structure.
It looked like a collection of large—REALLY large—tents. Thackerville isn’t exactly a thriving metropolis, either. So it seems bigger than it is in comparison to the small town where it’s located.
The Winstar has over 500,000 square feet of gaming area.
The 2nd biggest casino in Oklahoma is Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant. It has over 200,000 square feet of gaming area. The Choctaw tribe owns 8 casinos in Oklahoma, but the one in Durant is the big one.
I like playing poker there, but I haven’t visited in a couple of years. I live in Denton, so it’s just easier and cheaper to visit the Winstar, which is only a half-hour drive.
The Riverwind Casino is about the same size as Choctaw, so it’s tied for 2nd place. It also has about 200,000 square feet of gaming area.
The Riverwind is located in Norman, Oklahoma, which used to be known for its abundance of call centers. (It still might be a hub for the industry, but I’m not sure. I haven’t been in that business since the 1990s.)
The other big casinos in Oklahoma, in rough order of size, include:
- River Spirit Casino in Tulsa
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa
- Cherokee Casino in Roland
- Grand Casino Hotel Resort in Shawnee
- Newcastle Casino in Newcastle
- Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw
- Buffalo Run Casino & Resort in Miami
How Many Indian Casinos Are There in Oklahoma?
All the casinos in Oklahoma are “Indian casinos.” The state is home to 134 casinos. That’s more than any other state besides Nevada, which is home to 334 casinos.
One would hope that a state with that many casinos would have rules and game conditions comparable to what you’d find in Nevada, but that’s not the case.
The tribal casinos in Oklahoma aren’t required to post their payback percentages on their slot machines, but anyone who’s played in a Vegas casino can tell the difference in paybacks in less than an hour.
The table games are fun, but they charge a fee—they call it an “ante,” but it’s a fee—per hand at most casinos. I don’t know of any Oklahoma casinos which don’t charge this fee. The effect of this fee on the bottom line for the games is atrocious for the player from a mathematical perspective.
The house edge on a blackjack game with a $5/hand minimum in Las Vegas might be about 1%, assuming you play with perfect basics strategy.
Play the same game with the same rules in Oklahoma with their 50 cent fee per hand, and the house edge jumps to 10%.
That’s the difference between losing $2.50/hour on blackjack and losing $25/hour on blackjack.
Do Indian Casinos in Oklahoma Have to Pay Taxes?
The Indian Casinos in Oklahoma operate under a legal agreement with the state called a “compact.” Part of that agreement is a fee of between 4% and 6% on adjusted gross revenue that must be paid to the state. This is, in effect, a tax.
The casinos use this as an excuse to charge an “ante” at their table games. It’s really just an arbitrary fee, and contrary to the claims made by the staff and management at the casino, they’re not required to charge it. They just use the 5% as a number that coincides with the amount of the fees they charge.
Last year, the casinos paid the state almost $134 million in fees. That’s a dramatic increase since 2006, when they only generated $14 million for the state. The industry in Oklahoma really has grown that much.
Another reason for this increase is the larger number of Class III slot machines in use throughout the state’s casinos. Under the terms of their compact, Oklahoma casinos don’t have to pay fees on Class II slot machines, but they do pay fees on revenue generated from their Class III slots.
If you live near Oklahoma, it’s probably worth your while to visit the casinos there. They offer a huge variety of slot machines at almost all the properties in the state. Many Oklahoma casinos offer restaurants, bars, and entertainment that compares favorably with what’s available in Nevada, too.
The poker games in Oklahoma are excellent, by the way. The players are often loose and passive, especially at the lower stakes tables. You’ll find plenty of action and tournaments in any cardroom in the state, too, especially if you like Texas Holdem.
The casino games, on the other hand, don’t compare favorably with most of the casinos in Nevada. The house edge on the table games is especially high, largely because of the so-called “ante” that the casinos charge.
They’re still a better deal than the slot machines, which are tighter than I expected. But they don’t come close to being competitive with what you’d find in Vegas.
Look for the gambling scene in Oklahoma to continue to grow and change over time. As the landscape becomes more competitive, the games are bound to improve, too.